Saturday, 17 November 2018

Alternate Best Actor 1987: Klaus Kinski in Cobra Verde

Klaus Kinski did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Francisco Manoel da Silva aka the titular character of Cobra Verde.

Cobra Verde, as per usual with Werner Herzog film, frequently has compelling and unique visual imagery, though dramatically it doesn't feel quite fully realized in the story of a bandit being sent to African to attempt to reopen the slave trade.

With this film I come to the fifth and final collaboration between the German mad men of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, though I shall return to this for the two I've missed. In the matching of this pair though you have something most unusual as the two are as noted for their off screen conflict as they are known for their onscreen success. Kinski as an actor is a fascinating force all on his lonesome, but with Herzog he seems an essential element in part of his tapestries relating to the chaos and cruelty of nature. Of course Kinski plays a man, but a man inflicted with a madness to somehow break the bonds of that to reach perhaps resulting in an even greater insanity in the attempt. Of course this results in a not particularly sympathetic figure, in fact so far the most sympathetic role I've covered for Kinski was as the blood sucking vampire in Nosferatu. It is then a testament though to the natural power of the performer that there is something inherently transfixing about our central character even as despicable as he may be.

Kinski portrays many evil men here just in the form of one man. In the film's opening we see an vicious bandit who terrorizes those around him, though only after having suffered some tragedy alluded by the opening of the film. It is with this that Kinski works his magic in a sense as there is such an emotional intensity inherent within his portrayal of Silva that it makes him captivating even as we know little of him other than the terrors he inflicts. Of course what he initially inflicts is quite random as he interacts with other despicable exploiters initially. Kinski of course is compelling and even perhaps too convincing in portraying such a deranged sort. Although the act he commits seem random there is an internal logic through Kinski's performance that creates this sense of chaos within the man demeanor and eyes that makes him this force that refuses to conform to the norm, even when the norms themselves are hopelessly deranged as well. This inability for Silva to to even exist in this world leads him to an exile of sorts, by being sent to African to attempt to reopen the slave trade with a local African king.

Once Silva arrives to Africa the film becomes even more distant towards Silva who is rather reactionary for much of it. Kinski is effective in terms of capturing this certain attitude in Silva as he begrudgingly shows off the firearms, and attempts to posture as a proper colonial. Kinski does this with certain reserve, which notable for him, representing a man who is doing his act very much as an obligation for his life than a real passion. This changes though when he comes afoul of the king and becomes his prisoner. We get a proper Kinski intensity represented in his fear and anger as he remains the King's prisoner, being prepared for execution. Kinski captures really the brunt of this torture in only the way he can. This is in terms of his full physical and mental exhaustion of it all. Eventually Silva is released where he works with the King's rivals to stage a revolt and complete his mission. His training of the local women is quite easily the highlight of his performance. Kinski is outstanding in the moment in throwing himself fully into this warriors ferocity as he displays lunging with a spear. He shows more than just the technique but the requirement to properly deliver the determination to find victory on the battlefield. This leads to his victory, and to some rather horrible moments of Silva showing his "success" via the slaves from the king. Eventually the slave trade ends and Silva is essentially exiled. This leaves a moment of pondering and sadness, however well performed they are distant as is the character. This is not on Kinski's front who does provide something through the sheer will of his ability as a performer, the character's personal journey remains a little too vague even within Herzog's typical style. As it seems to assume we know who Cobra Verde is, even though we don't and what his story even meant to him beyond the clues garnered by Kinski's work. It is still a compelling turn as to be expected but the character is a little too nebulous even for the mad German.

108 comments:

Charles H said...

I'm looking forward to his review for Fitzcarraldo

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Me as well. He could potentially challenge for the win that year though Newman will be pretty tough to beat.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: What would you say is the worst performance of the year so far?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could Jonah Hill go up for The Wolf of Wall Street?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is there any possibility of Kinski going up for Nosferatu The Vampyre.

Michael McCarthy said...

Tahmeed: Personally, I’d give Hill a solid 4 at least.

Anonymous said...

Mary Queen of Scots is getting great reviews so far, looks like it wasnt the flop that it seemed like it could have been.

Luke Higham said...

First reactions for Vice have been really great so Bale and Adams are practically locks by the look of it.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: That Lead Actress category is becoming increasingly stacked once again.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: On the whole not just the Oscars. Robbie will be put in Supporting.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: When discussing the 2018 bonus round, you mentioned that you would try not to watch as much as in previous years from now until the end of the alternates so you'll have enough options to choose from for both Lead and Supporting. If you've decided not to watch and review Hawke in First Reformed during that period and kept him for the bonus round, is there any possibility you could do it much sooner than later, perhaps after both 2013 and 14.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on these anime openings? You forgot to say your thoughts on them in the last review.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpUbnLjexTc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocQ6PDiP014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CID-sYQNCew

Louis Morgan said...

Saw Widows as well, which I liked, though it was overstuffed though mostly in a it should've been longer sort of way. .

Davis - 4
Rodriguez - 2.5
Debicki - 5
Erivo - 3.5
Farrell - 3.5
Henry - 4
Weaver - 2.5
Coon - 2.5
Duvall - 3
Neeson - 3
Dillahunt - 3

Matt:

I think Rafe Spall in Jurassic World 2 still owns that "prize".

Tahmmed:

Yes.

Anonymous:

Well that complicates things as I think Ronan and Robbie could both potentially win. That makes Actress even more stacked (I'd probably swap out Davis for Ronan in predictions then).

Luke:

Possibly.

I'll definitely be watching First Reformed, I typically only discount contenders I am literally unable to watch before the reviews, like Phoenix last year.

Anonymous:

Pardon, missed the comment before posting Kinski's review.

An extended fighting game introduction/super death attack, either way quite spirited and visually stunning. Theme though I'll say is a little messier and perhaps just touch bombastic.

Not sure of the rotting rock chords intro to theme, followed by the somewhat dying though more spited vocals. Visually I'll say the moving was more compelling than the stills which are intriguing some sense.

Third was not available to me.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your extended thoughts on the film and the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I’ll probably push Duvall and Rodriguez slightly down in retrospect.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually thought Rodriguez was pretty great.

Mitchell Murray said...

Louis: Having not watched the movie yet, yet hearing heaps of praise upon Davis, I'm curious as to why she's a 4 for you at the moment. An extension of Luke's question, really, but does it have to do with the writing behind her character, or some scenes where she's a little off, or some other reason?

Also, for you and everyone here, whats your thoughts on Carrie Coon as an actress? For myself, I'm actually starting to warm up to her - not that I thought she was bad to begin with - but rather that I've become a little more taken with her body of work. I'll admit to admiring her television work, most recently "The Sinner" which is a fairly middle-of-the-road show, but Coon does create an effective characterization for her part. I see her as a very disciplined performer who's only just beginning to branch out into film, and for me, its a welcome change considering her solid turn in "Gone Girl" and the potential that performance showed.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

With Widows, like the Outlaw King, though very different films, again is an example of a very ambitious film which is always admirable in my view. One ambition being adapting a multi part mini-series to a single two hour film. The result leaves many threads weaves throughout the film with the heist itself being simply the core of it. The limitations of the running time sadly leave some elements, though very intriguing, underdeveloped (the two political factions), some characters needing a bit more there despite the seeds clearly being planted for their development, and a few elements that I think could've probably been removed. The biggest one being an important moment in the third act that should have far more impact than it does both emotionally and in a narrative sense. Having said that the film does develop some elements enough, and again some aspects though undeveloped are still compelling. In addition the thematic daring of the story often is remarkable particularly amplified by McQueen's direction, which for me made up for some pitfalls in the writing including some naff lines of dialogue in there. I know some have complained actually about the long take driving/exposition scene, however I thought that was actually fantastic choice in visually reflecting a thematic point. Many of McQueen's choices are rather notable, and atypical. Most of them effective though there are a few instances where his sort artistic heist film slightly loses itself, they are the exceptions.

Davis - (Well to answer Mitchell's quandary as well this is more of a circumstance of me liking rather loving a performance. Davis delivers as one would expect the emotional brunt in sort of her solo moments along with her "tough lines" even if they are delivered straight from her Amanda Waller performance. In this though I never thought her work took the next step partially due to the character's motivations being established but not explored enough. In that there are a few moments where I frankly just expected more of guttural reaction, not that she's at all underwhelming. It is rather a shortcoming of the film that this element just doesn't quite hit as it should, but I won't get into more detail than that given it is a spoiler.)

Rodriguez - (Eh for me this was her mostly just doing her typical shtick. There was no transformation since she already did mostly her Letty routine. Her one major scene out of this, is really one moment where McQueen's direction didn't work for me. In that he seeks a really purely naturalistic human interaction as this moment of shared grief. It doesn't come together and I find that is partially within the performances just don't quite reach the point they need to for it to work.)

Louis Morgan said...

Debicki - (She is the film for me quite frankly, and kept me invested at every point. Her performance is simply wonderful in every regard. In that she is incredibly moving in portraying the battered state of the woman as she opens the film. She delivers such a piercing vulnerability. This being with even some her scenes seemingly cut, namely it seems like there should have been a bit more between her and Weaver. Debicki painfully reflects this state and in turn portrays so effectively how her loss becomes a benefit rather than an overt grief. I loved her portrayal of the growing confidence in her scenes of the heist planning, and her other moments of the character's relationship. Debicki I thought both manages to make the transformation convincing, but also deliver something usually essential to a heist film. That being fun, which does deliver but it never seems to compromise her dramatic work. Instead she makes it work as this reflection of that confidence. I wish we had more of her in the film, but even so I found she stole every scene in her portraying the growing charisma of the character. She delivers such a vibrancy and energy with her work that is incredibly endearing. This is to the point she steals the spotlight in a way for me as I found she managed to create the most complete journey of any character in the film.)

Louis Morgan said...

Erivo - (I'll give her quite a bit of credit in making an impact even as her character feels gerrymandered within the plot. Erivo though delivers enough of a charismatic turn to make up for the fact that the film only uses her as a very specific device with her sort of personal stakes being extremely rushed. She still manages to in her performance just bring enough substance that I wished they weren't so rushed, and her inclusion in the gang was more naturally realized.)

Farrell - (His accent is a little wonky at times however I did like the passion that Farrell brought to the role. I thought within his work her found the right combination between this certain earnestness that combats with a certain sleaze. Of course his most essential scene is only in voice, as you can see him in his car, but Farrell echoes the character's conflict well even if I wished there had been more to it.)

Henry - (Like Farrell, though without a wonky accent at times, Henry manages to make his character rather compelling in his scenes to the point I do wish his plot did not mostly disappear from the film. Henry though is very effective in conveying this sort of more passion within the man that is both somewhat earnest, but also false. This is as he still conveys within that the cold vicious criminal that occasionally bubbles up, which are moments that Henry pulls off magnificently.)

Weaver - (Seems like her typical thing now is to show up as a kooky elderly lady. This is an example of this.)

Coon - (Oh I think Coon is a rather strong actress with an inherent naturalism that is appreciated. Here though she is horribly wasted that I would have to say her scenes must have been cut.)

Duvall - (Eh just wasted in a rote part for him. He's still Duvall, but eh I wished they had given him something to do.)

Dillahunt - (Minor part but I quite liked how much character he managed to bring to the role. He effectively creates a certain sympathy for the man just through the little color he grants to the role.)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Here's some other projects I found out about:

At one point, Sam Fuller was interested in making a film about the Battle of San Juan Hill, having met the trumpeter who blew the charge in Cuba. Another project that he never made was a sci-fi version of Lysistrata where a secret society of women maintain peace through out the world through sex, science and violence.

Sidney Lumet also planned to direct a remake of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion with Pacino and Walken and Schrader writing the screenplay.

A Western comedy written by Burt Kennedy where two cowboys played by Mitchum and Coburn go to Spain to buy Andalusian horses for a circus owner.

Thoughts?

Calvin Law said...

I’m so glad you loved Debicki. What are your thoughts on a dark horse nomination for her?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well a Fuller war film would be intriguing at any rate, as his first hand granted a very different perspective. Notable one of no great adaptation either, maybe that would've been it. Fuller doing sci-fi sounds like some sort of madness, but intriguing madness.

Kind of glad that didn't happen as doubt it would've added much to the original film, which had the required proximity to dictatorship within the filmmakers.

Could've been enjoyable Coburn/Mitchum certainly could've been a fun pair. From what I've seen from Kennedy he could make a decent film, and would've benefited from those two I think.

Calvin:

I'd love to see it happen although it is becoming a tough rode. The film seems to have become divisive, in terms of a generalized view, so I think it might struggle to become a player. With Robbie and Adams both supposedly living up to expectations that means she'd need to jump either one of them, King, Foy, or one of the Favourite ladies. That is also with Kidman hanging around as potential spoiler as well, and maybe some other dark horse somewhere too. So I wouldn't bet on it, as much as I'd like to see it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I recall you saying how Gunga Din was inconsistent with its tone compared to Beau Geste. How would have you improved the film?

Also, here's some interesting trivia about the film. Apparently, hHoward Hawks was the first choice to direct the film and he had in mind Colman, Donat and Milland for Grant's role while he thought of Spencer Tracy and Franchot Tone for McLaglen's role. He was removed from the project because he was spending too much time working on Bringing Up Baby and because the latter was a flop.

Anonymous said...

*because the film was flop.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: What are some post-Get Shorty roles that you would've liked to see Travolta in, where the parts would've been a better match instead of his heel turns?

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: What are some of your favourite depictions of Satan on film, including, if you want, examples that are up for interpretation (i.e. possibly Satan, but never explicitly referred to as such)?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your thoughts on these anime openings?
https://youtu.be/t-QSmNReDyI (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
https://youtu.be/8QE9cmfxx4s (Death Note)
https://youtu.be/cRA5gsdCf4c

Luke Higham said...

Louis & Calvin: I re-watched Widows yesterday for Debicki (Was on the border to begin with and as I explained before, was really tired on that first viewing) and she's an easy 5 for me and my Supporting Actress winner so far.

Louis: Your thoughts on Debicki as an actress and would you say that Guardians 2 was the only role of hers that was nowhere near used to its full potential.

And what did you think of her in Macbeth.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: I think Debicki definitely has a solid screen presence, even when she isn't given much to do, like in The Great Gatsby, Everest, and...well...GOTG Vol. 2. I also think she should've received more screentime in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. since she was one of the highlights for me in that film.

Álex Marqués said...

Mitchell: you should watch The Leftovers, that show made me a fan of Coon.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Is Dafne Keen still a 5 for Logan, noticed she wasn't in your top 10 performances in superhero films list.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Heres how I would improve Gunga Din, tell Cary Grant to calm down lol.

John Smith said...

I just saw Blackkklansman and i loved it. Im seething with anger. FSociety all the way.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Oh and before I forget: do you think Ryan Reynolds would've been a better choice for Richie Dimaso instead of Bradley Cooper?
I think Reynolds at least would've focused on one approach for the character instead of the scattershot one Cooper took, although Reynolds was a bit less proven back then.

Matt Mustin said...

Bryan L: This has been mentioned before, but I think Cooper actually could've given a good performance in that film, he just didn't, for whatever reason. I think the blame should go to David O. Russell, to be honest.

Bryan L. said...

Matt: Oh, I did notice that was mentioned in the comments section for Coopers' review, and Cooper indeed could've done it himself, since maybe Russell wasn't right for that film in retrospect. I'm just referring to Reynolds since he's grown on me as an actor, and I wonder what he would've done in that part.

Speaking of O. Russell, I'm wondering what he's up to nowadays. Maybe Joy destroyed all of his goodwill...

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

Madman Mundt - Barton Fink
Siliva Pinal in Simon of the Desert
Old Scratch (Walter Huston)
Louis Cypher

Anonymous:

Limit or possibly eliminate the screwball comedy element. As Grant, as RatedRStar said, to tone it down a bit. Allow the atmosphere to build as Wellman had accomplished so brilliantly in the underrated Beau Geste. There is a power to Gunga Din yet the film meanders its away towards. It reaches it sort of, but a more concise vision would have benefited it. Well I do think Colman, Donat or Milland would've been better for Grant's role, however I think Tone or Tracy would've been a downgrade from McLaglen, so hard to say how it would've worked out.

Tahmeed:

No, just an oversight.

Rather like the theme which is a nice jazzy sorta ballad mix. Got a bit less from the actual introduction though, that was certainly a series of images, but I'll admit I didn't find them overly dynamic.

Where is Nat Wolff? Honestly. Seriously though some compelling dark imagery fueled effectively by sort of a Castelvaniaesque style song as kind of that rock Gothic. Not amazing to me, but certainly compelling enough.

Not at all a bad rock ballad for its theme wise. It loses itself but I think, but pretty effective overall. As for the animation, fairly remarkable I will say, though I am quite lost for what any of it means.

Luke:

Well I find Debicki one of the most remarkable and dynamic screen presences of an actress in her age group. This is with talent to back that up. I'll admit I forgot to include her on the corresponding promising actresses list, maybe partially she reads older she is, and I mean in a good way. With Widows most recently though she's shown she has an even greater range than perhaps expected. This is with her scene stealing work in Man From UNCLE, and her brief yet powerful work. Macbeth. There, though so limited, still managed to leave an impression with her portrayal of an extreme emotional anguish. Now Guardians was a terrible waste of her, but that is not at all on her. She is very one of a kind, and I hope she finds more worthy roles as she has a great deal of promise.

Bryan:

Charlie Wilson
Shannon (Drive)
Teddy Sanders (The Martian)

Russell is indeed to blame more than anything, though I do think Cooper is more comfortable with drama than comedy. Reynolds, or someone else with a more natural comedic presence like Sam Rockwell could've worked better however it would've been an uphill battle.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: When do you intend to see Venom and The Crimes Of Grindelwald.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Hmm, probably when I can see them in the cheapest possible way.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who would have you chosen out of those three guys for Grant's role and for director, would have you kept Stevens or gotten Hawks?

Bryan L. said...

Luke: I actually saw Venom at the lowest possible price at the theater closest to me. I truly wasn't planning on watching it, but the movie was already a hit by then, and I figured since it already made its money without me, I might as well.

Michael McCarthy said...

I got to see Beautiful Boy, Burning, and Widows today.

Beautiful Boy I actually didn't hate, but I did think it hit its points much too hard and actually would've benefited from a more linear narrative.

Burning I absolutely loved. It builds tension in such a subtle but brutal way, the three central performances are superb, and it never provides easy answers to the questions it poses.

As for Widows, I pretty much feel the same way as everyone else on this blog. I wanted so much to love it but in the end it just keeps a few too many balls in the air, but it is largely a success due mostly to the power of the core story.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the screenplay for Drive? I would've asked alongside Baby Driver but I figured I'd wait a bit.

Calvin Law said...

Your ratings for the casts of the three films Michael? So glad you loved Burning

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the scores for each season of Game Of Thrones and in your opinion, what are the stand out pieces from each.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the set design of Grand Hotel. Kinda surprised it didn't get a nomination.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on the desert and cornfield scenes in casino?

Matt Cofrancesco said...

Louis: Have you given your thoughts on Patrick Magee in A Clockwork Orange?

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin:


Beautiful Boy

Carell: 3.5
Chalamet: 2.5

These ratings are far from final, I think Carell actually might have overcome a lot of the film's shortcomings, and as for Chalamet this film is kind of making me re-evaluate how I feel about him as a performer.

Burning

Yoo: 4.5 (Definitely could go up)
Jeong: 5
Yeun: 5 (Maybe my win for the year)

Widows

Davis: 4
Rodriguez: 3
Debicki: 5
Erivo: 3.5
Farrell: 4
Henry: 3.5
Kaluuya: 4.5
Coon: 3
Duvall: 2.5
Neeson: 3

Also as for Widows, I feel like I should mention that I saw the twist coming without reading what it was beforehand, simply because of how everyone talks about the film.

Luke Higham said...

Michael: I personally would give Kaluuya a 5, but I figure Louis will give him a really strong 4.5. It's a shame that he was underused in the third act and thinking about it more, I hate the way he was disposed of.

If Louis were to see Burning and Shoplifters, I reckon Yeun and Franky will take 2 of the 5 spots along with Nelson/Waits.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh, I *loved* the way Kaluuya exited the film. It was the funniest scene in the film.

Calvin Law said...

If Ernest Borgnine can get a 5 for From Here to Eternity, I’m sure Kaluuya potentially as well in terms of small but memorable heavy roles. Having said that I’m inclined to agree with Luke, since Louis did seem to indicate that Debicki completely stole the film for him.

I didn’t mind the way he exited, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded a few extra scenes with Henry.

Luke Higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Higham said...

Robert: I did chuckle at that moment when he had the cash but the aftermath did irritate me.

Hate may be too harsh a word for it but I wasn't a fan of it personally.

But if you liked it then more power to you. :)

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your thoughts on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw Green Book.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

Luke Higham said...

Robert: I'll wait until I see it before saying anything, since it's well known here that its genre is not your cup of tea.

Emi Grant said...

Robert: I guess you didn't love it?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Seeing it a day after I saw Blindspotting gave me such whiplash that I think it broke my neck. It’s the worst kind of “don’t worry white people, you’re not racist” pandering since The Blind Side. Both Viggo AND Ali are disasters. My audience clapped at the end. I need a smoke.

Bryan L. said...

(I mean this in good humor btw)

And the 2018 Yearly Awards Contending Film that Robert Dislikes goes to...


Bryan L. said...

Robert: Although I see where you're coming from, since Call Me by Your Name was the only awards contender last year that I didn't like.

Bryan L. said...

And if you guys don't mind, I'd like to give my final Top Ten for 2017

1. Dunkirk
2. Three Billboards
3. The Death of Stalin
4. Blade Runner: 2049
5. I, Tonya
6. Phantom Thread
7. The Shape of Water
8. Okja
9. Get Out
10. The Disaster Artist

Robert MacFarlane said...

My top 10 last year was:

1. Get Out
2. Your Name.
3. Lady Bird
4. Blade Runner 2049
5. Atomic Blonde
6. I, Tonya
7. The Last Jedi
8. Good Time
9. Phantom Thread
10. Novitiate


(Three Billboards was in my bottom 10 and has only sat worse and worse with me over the past year.)

Louis Morgan said...

Also saw Green Book, indeed fails to be a Pulitzer Prize winning treatise on race relations in America, but as a light entertainment I thought it was more than fine.

Charles H said...

I've also seen Widows and Green Book. Nothing to add on Widows. It's very good and i did love Kaluuya and would give him a five. Despite the fact he's misused by the end.

Green Book is the yearly ambitious film about racism. Nothing distinguishes this from the tons of other of its formula. I think Mortensen and Ali are "ok" despite their material but in no way worthy of nominations.

Mitchell Murray said...

Robert: Even I'll admit, Three Billboards has lost some of its luster for me in time. Now its more a movie that I like a lot instead of love, though I'll still defend the absolute best aspects of it, namely the performances.

Don't worry, Robert. These things are all in good faith and while we disagree heavily on Billboards - and Hacksaw Ridge for that matter - I'm not going into "Green Book" with amazing expectations. Its a movie I'm eager to see but don't expect to be incredible by any means, nor can I see it doing incredibly well come oscar time; Acting would be a good bet, but I doubt it will have the greatest chances for the other fields with the level of competition.

Like I've said before, when it comes to film criticism, its not important to agree on everything, but it is important to understand why viewers can disagree in the first place.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: just got halfway through Buster Scruggs and absolutely adored the Tom Waits section.

Was wondering, what would your thoughts be on a 1990s The Revenant directed by Jim Jarmusch, with Waits as Fitzgerald opposite say, Isaach de Bankolé as Hugh Glass? Obviously would be a more loose retelling of the story but I feel that could be something great.

Calvin Law said...

Also, my 2017 top 10:

1. Phantom Thread
2. Three Billboards
3. Get Out
4. Dunkirk
5. Detroit
6. The Florida Project
7. Logan
8. The Shape of Water
9. I, Tonya
10. Lucky

Matt Mustin said...

Don't know if I can do respectable top 10 of 2017 without having seen Three Billboards, Blade Runner, Lady Bird or Call My By Your Name yet, but I'll try.

1. The Shape of Water
2. Phantom Thread
3. Get Out
4. I, Tonya
5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
6. Lucky
7. The Death of Stalin
8. Logan
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming
10. War for the Planet of the Apes

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Drive's screenplay is of course a blueprint to some degree for a direction like Refn, however quite an excellent one, especially when compared to Baby Driver, in terms of naturally creating the central conflict, the complications therein, but also with a thematic weight that layers between the idea of who the driver would like to be and what his nature decides for him. It's plot developments are never forced, they naturally move, but also are equally effective in terms of the way it propels the central character through his personal journey. Of course this is further supplemented by memorable dialogue, even though the film isn't known for that, whether it be Bernie's final "this is how it is" or the driver's sort of job condition. Is it filled with eloquent exposition, no but what there is, is good. What also is there is more than enough, and never gets in the way of Refn's direction which takes the story, which is derivative, to such heights.

Anonymous:

Impressive pseudo-thenmodern sets for the time balancing a certain straight forward glamor with a certain style particularly in the main hall design. It creates the right sort of atmosphere in terms of place through it.

Luke:

Well I wouldn't say there is really an obvious quality difference between seasons. All seasons are brilliantly scored, and build upon each other in the use of the music that becomes a sort of shorthand. The music that is just so well realized as it feels "period", it is thematic with each character/family theme seeming simply perfect, and well it just sounds damn good. So many fantastic orchestral pieces with each just finding the right approach for any given scene, character, or tone. It is outstanding work.

Season 1: All, but I'll go with the underrated, and underused, The King's Arrival
Season 2: The Rains of Castamere
Season 3: Mhysa
Season 4: The Children
Season 5: Forgive Me
Season 6: Light of the Seven
Season 7: Against All Odds

Calvin:

He's not in it, that's Roger Murdock, he's the co-pilot.

(He's funny in doing kind of the stiff athlete actor shtick for most of it, though dropping to actually "act" a bit, though hilariously, when reprimanding the kid's dismissive remarks)

I will say "Scruggs" as a whole is sitting extremely well with me (typical for Coens), still don't love "Meal Ticket"(though I do think it has great atmosphere), but my affection for all the rest has only grown. To the point I'm starting to think "Buster" is one of the best comedies the Coens have ever done, and "All Gold Canyon" is one of the best dramatic. The cinematography of that section by the way, kind of makes Delbonnel almost impossible to top for me this year.

Anonymous:

Not a bad scene really and wish the film better realized the way the conflict is intertwined throughout the film. It's a fine moment as is though, even with De Niro absolutely ridiculous sunglasses.

Cornfield is the best scene of the film with Frank Vincent finally getting his revenge in a particularly brutal scene. Although I will say perhaps Scorsese gets just a touch too cheeky with his, interruption of the narration, but I will say it is an effectively brutal death scene, disturbing despite the nature of the character.

Matt C.:

I believe so, I'll have a look.

Charles H said...

2017

1. Blade Runner: 2049
2. Dunkirk
3. The Death of Stalin
4. Okja
5. Logan
6. Detroit
7. The Florida Project
8. Paddington 2
9. The Shape of Water
10. Get Out

Anonymous said...

Louis: I forgot to tell you this, but JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is supposed to be overly bombastic, ridiculous and campy, so I'd say that bombastic intro fits.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

And yes that version of The Revenant sounds like something that could strangely exist, and be brilliant.

Anonymous:

Fair enough.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: Could I have your specific thoughts on All Gold Canyon's cinematography?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: Since some are asking your opinions of anime openings, what do you think of this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nttSKBJ38k

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

Honestly one of the most beautiful depictions of nature I've seen in film. I couldn't help but feel that I ought go to some valley looking for Mr. pocket myself. Every leaf, every blade of grass, every branch, every shadow of the clouds, the clear water, offers such vibrant detail that is so simple, it is indeed just a forest, yet so stunning as this place only touched by itself. Delbonnel's work is magnificent as it has both this intimacy, even this warmth through the colors that always seem authentic yet somehow the most perfect of that. This is at the same time capturing a definite grandeur all the same in how every distant exterior is composed as a period painting. This never loses the intimacy still allowed with ole Waits, who honestly is as vibrant as nature. Every choice is just so marvelous in creating this little world that grants such powerful atmosphere. That is brilliant in the sort "larger" choices, but also in just some of the "smaller" achievements such as the way the lighting is manipulated so effectively to indicate a sudden moment of dread.

Robert:

Well I must admit there is something rather fascinating about that one, I'll admit somewhat off-putting (in a good way) with the laughing fit among life (standard and the terrible extremes), though supplemented by a more encouraging, though not out of place, theme.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: Paranoia Agent is probably the only anime I'd recommend with complete confidence to someone who doesn't like anime. It's the closest thing to an animated Twin Peaks.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 10 production designers.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I think one of the first anime Louis should watch (if he gets the time) is Erased. It's very Western in its thinking, and it handles its different genres brilliantly.

Anonymous said...

Louis: And also your thoughts on the screenplay of The Tin Star. You forgot to give your thoughts on it a while ago.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I too find Goslings opening monologue in Drive quite memorable.

Lastly, do you think Brando would've been a good fit for these 2010s film roles?

Dean (Blue Valentine)
Tom Hanks' roles in Cloud Atlas (In a 70s version by Coppola of course)
Niander Wallace (Since he kind of is like Kurtz)
Toby Howard

Calvin Law said...

Brando in Hanks’ roles sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I think he would’ve been a great Dean though.

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: I figured that as well, but remember, Coppola got the best out of him in that decade. I think he at least could've pulled off Zach'ry, since he was adept at Shakespeare, and this wouldn't be far off. Although the other roles would've been a huge wild card...

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Oh and Brando as Connie Nikas?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Game of Thrones episode 'The Lion and the Rose', and your top 5 Iwan Rheon acting moments.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on The Lion King teaser.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: could I have your thoughts on the Buster Scruggs cast sans Nelson and Waits?

Louis Morgan said...

Saw Creed II, the Rocky II of Creed movies, which means pretty good even if it doesn't do anything too out of the ordinary.

Robert & Tahmeed:

I'll certainly keep those recommendations in mind.

Anonymous:

1. Dante Ferretti
2. Yoshiro Muraki
3. Charles D. Hall
4. Hein Heckroth
5. Jack Fisk
6. Van Nest Polglase
7. Dennis Gassner & Nancy Haigh
8. Otto Hunte
9. Ken Adam
10. John Box

The Tin Star is one of Mann's best westerns, as once again he's working with one of his best scripts. It is just extremely well plotted in terms of setting up the town, creating the dynamic between the green sheriff, and the hardened drifter. It grants the time into the interpersonal relationships both through the main characters, but also just in terms of smaller moments. This includes just the bandits themselves, as well as the quick to judgement towns folk. It sets its pieces up extremely well, while also making it such a compelling narrative to drive the central relationship between the two characters who are so well developed throughout the film. It creates such a natural progression in their dialogue together in terms of the lessons granted to the sheriff, and making his maturity by the end of the film feel wholly earned.

Bryan:

Dean - Can certainly see it with early Brando in creating that sort of angst, but also the low key romance of the flashback scenes.

Hanks Roles - Agree with Calvin.

Wallace - Hmmm maybe actually, as the sort of later Brando indulgence could potentially have worked there.

Toby Howard - Very early Brando most certainly who could share the spotlight without being boring either.

Connie - Again very early Brando most definitely, though I think Clift is probably the more natural fit there.

Tahmeed:

It's a terrific episode in terms of what is essentially the centerpiece of the episode. That being the wedding where you really see the greatness of the interplay realized between the characters there, through the tensions both directly and indirectly revealed. One would wish that this level of writing could find itself a bit more in the later seasons as the interactions both are dynamic and natural. Of course this building so well to the climax of the episode granted towards the death of one of the most despised of all GOT characters. Speaking of despised the episode does feature an important moment of Ramsay, which sadly was eliminated to a degree later on, in terms of his interactions with his father. We also get one of the great Alfie Allen moments, in his particularly heartbreaking reaction to hearing the news of Robb, which I like has bit of something more through Roose's reactions to Ramsay's torture.

1. Showing off his "dog"
2. Pork sausage
3. Pretending to be a friend
4. demise
5. Being made a Bolton

Luke:

Hmmm, great effects but looks quite pointless.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Watson - (Loved his straight laced delivery of stating being the best gun slinger/singing cowboy in his intro. He then delivers that duet just beautifully.)

Brown and Krumholtz are fun archetypes.

Franco - (Franco does his sort of air headed cowboy with a proper comedic timing in his consistent level of bafflement as a man rather lost his world. He though also does manage to find a bit of poignancy in his final reaction as just a bit of joy.)

Root - (Entertaining bit of madness from him.)

Neeson - (I do think his presence is well suited to its cause, and that does add something to his role. His role though is very limited however I do think he does bring something towards alluding to some connection to his titular ticker. That being in his reaction at the very end of the story where he does deliver some weight within the implication.)

Melling - (First of all, THAT's DUDLEY DURSLEY!, Secondly he certainly can act, with quite a few limitations to say the least. Melling's only lines are of monologues which he delivers brilliantly with the right combination of showmanship of the passion fueled drama. With that though I think he does manage to be moving in creating this very low key melancholy in his silent interactions with Neeson, even with the general contentment of his position.)

Kazan - (Rather liked her performance here in that I though she managed to be sort of this western type while never falling into either caricature nor does she betray that type. She rather realizes that type into an honest person even within that creating the right subdued emotion within the character's plight. She effectively shows someone who is of this reserved nature, but still allows us to wholly sympathize with her.)

Louis Morgan said...

Heck - (Honestly could go higher with his performance because I love the way he slowly reveals this really vulnerable and honest man also within this western type. This being of the tough wagon train leader. I love how he brings such a vibrancy and earnestness in this. In that even in a comedic moment, such as his bad shooting, is realized with such a sincerity in Heck's performance. I like the way he slowly though sort of opens up the man's emotions yet still does it so quietly that still feels natural to the character. Simply wonderful work.)

Hines - (He is mostly just there, but entirely fine at first. Once the "raid" happens though it is sort of this tour de force from him. There is just something so compelling as he conducts his performance with this overwhelming confidence. A confidence that is not only conveys the strength of the man in the situation, but also the emotional strength in terms of handling it with the fearful Alice with him. Although he doesn't dwell on it Hines delivers such a powerful empathy in these moments, and I found his quiet final delivery devastating by how simply yet so honestly he spoke the words.)

Daly - (Perhaps left the least impression on me of the riders however she does sort of the overly sensitive biddy rather well for her part.)

Gleeson - (Can deliver a proper emotion to his ballads but more than that the cheerfulness he adheres to his character is just wonderfully dark. Gleeson makes for a proper pair though as there is something also not quite right about him though in a, purposefully, more subtle way than with O'Neill.)

O'Neill - (Speaking of just terrific work from him, and really I'd at least raise him to a 4. There is something so engaging in his work that is charming yet with this certain almost demonic bent. The way he so spiritedly speaks of matters of life and death, the same way he speaks of his stories is as a man who seems to treasure death in the way others do existence. O'Neill brings something slightly otherworldly in that gaze of his, and the way he so assuredly conducts himself.)

Ross & Rubinek - (An enjoyable work from both them in delivering their own archetypes though with a little more granted to them. Ross being a bit more overtly comedic in his properly gruff way of speaking the knowledge of a trapper, while Rubinek granting something more within his reactions of trying to decipher the two strange men in front of him. His final silent moments are especially well handled as he says so much with just a tip of the hat.)

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: O'Neill is a strong 4 from me and I could bump him up purely for those eyes of his.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: More detailed thoughts on Creed II and ratings/thoughts on the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Honestly for Scruggs I at least liked all the stories. Meal Ticket was probably the weakest but I still found it strangely moving. I actually wished Near Algodones was a bit longer, really enjoyed Franco’s constantly befuddled outlaw and the ending was powerful. Quite loved The Mortal Remains, and I’d probably give O’Neill a 4.5.

And I loved the other three just about equally. Scruggs was hilarious and just amazingly fun, All Gold Canyon is just a beautiful one man show, and The Gal Who Got Rattled was such atypical yet incredible stuff from the Coens.

Calvin Law said...

Like: I could see Waits winning the overall.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I predict between 4 to 6 fives for Supporting Actor. Nelson, Waits, Yeun and Franky being 4 of them. We'll see with Russell Hornsby in The Hate U Give. However, my mind hasn't changed on Kaluuya and we could get a couple more surprises.

Luke Higham said...

And I can't rule out Richard E. Grant either in Can You Ever Forgive Me?.

Calvin Law said...

Based on reviews alone I’m predicting a 5 for Grant.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: In your opinion what's the biggest missed opportunity of Richard Harris's career. It could either be a part he should've played or a performance he gave that could've been greater, whether he didn't bring enough effort to the role (Rarely saw a lack of it) or there were other elements that let him down. For me, if the screenplay was far better than it was, The Field could've been a career-best for him.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on the score and cinematography for the 1957 3:10 to Yuma.

Luke Higham said...

Alternate Supporting lineup
Nelson/Waits
Yeun
Franky
Hornsby
And either Kaluuya or Alessandro Nivola in Disobedience (Robert has an unused request which I guess he's saving for a 2018 review and it'll be one of these 2 I think)

Calvin Law said...

Just realized I've already given 16 5's this year.

Luke: You reckon Kaluuya will be in alternate supporting? I'd definitely agree that the prospects of an Oscar nomination are a bit slimmer but with Chalamet losing lots of steam and Rockwell, unlike Bale and Adams, hasn't got *that* much hype yet, there's still a chance.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Of course, but even I've been hearing praise for Carell in Vice as Donald Rumsfeld and Rockwell though apparently great isn't in it enough.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I do think Vice will gather more momentum during this awards season whereas Widows could struggle especially if McQueen doesn't get the Director noms and Debicki's up against Robbie, Weisz and Stone for the last 2 spots in Supporting Actress so that could crossover to Supporting Actor as well, as I've seen some having Driver and Jordan in there as well.

Calvin Law said...

I could definitely see Driver getting in.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Interesting that you mention The Field, since he was the only nominee from that film, and he very well could've won if the film was better than the final result, which in turn, could've lead to more nominations for the film and more support. Plus, he achieved veteran status by then, and definitely could've charmed the voters.

Although I am glad Jeremy Irons has a statue

Louis Morgan said...

Well that's a good one, another I'd say is that Cromwell didn't have more meat as a character, as the idea of such a wild man playing such a controlled individual could have been interesting. The film just simplifies Cromwell too much as the "hero". It's a shame as they did make a complicated lead in Charles which Guinness ran with. And just for a fantasy casting, I think I've said it before, I'll say it again I think he would've given a 5 star turn if he had played Malone in The Untouchables. The role just would've been perfect for him.

Anonymous:

There is so much more though within the orchestral score that captures this certain quite melancholy. It is rather atypical in this sense in the restraint shown in many of the choices with some minimal combinations such as just a bit of plucking on the violin with some quite strumming. It is far more low key than most lacking the traditional heroic themes, instead creating such a palatable atmosphere of near despair that amplifies the dread around are sad sack hero with the odds against him. It is wonderful low key work that stands out among westerns of the time.

The cinematography is another stand out aspect of the film as its use of black and white is closer to noir than a lot of westerns. In that it creates a real distance in its lighting, and a vibrancy that actually isolates each subject. It subtly uses shadows again to create such lurid atmosphere. This is along with particularly dynamic compositions often with a deep focus that adds to that very unusual vibrancy that makes every shadow, and light source stand out.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Creed II adheres to the Rocky formula, but it is a testament to the strength of that formula that it works so well. Within the formula it again hits its marks so well in terms of granting the investment in the fight, and just offering sort of that inspirational thrust within the story. Although I'd say there is a touch less panache within the visual direction, Steven Caple, Jr. does some fine work overall. Of course there is more than that, as this is early rather than late Rocky style, despite the connections to IV. The personal story and character work is again terrific as it was in Creed. I'd say in one capacity, better, as the Dragos' story offers some real surprises giving a more fleshed out opponent than in the first film. Although with the main characters it doesn't hit the emotional heights of the original, it feels like such a natural progression for them, and I loved just spending more time with Rocky and Adonis.

Jordan - 4.5(Jordan really doesn't lose anything in his portrayal the second time bringing once again that dynamic drive within his performance. He offers that sort passion of the fighter, but once again a real anger within it. This time though he channels it more specifically as this pain as connected to the loss to his father. It is similar to what the character was going through in the first film, but I like how Jordan never replays it showing it as this natural progression towards more. In addition he's great in his personal moments with Stallone and Thompson. Very good specifically in realizing the growth of the character as he slowly loses that angry young man he was in the first film, to become a more well rounded individual. It's the type of reprise I like as Jordan never regresses Creed, the missteps the character makes feel natural emotionally, and he does take him to somewhere new by the end of the film.)

Stallone - 4(He doesn't rip your heart out like he did in the last film, but this is still some strong work from Stallone. He once again excels as this mentor figure with Adonis though never compromising his character as Rocky. I especially love one semi-comedic, but also honest moment early on where Rocky recounts something to help Adonis outside of the boxing ring. Stallone just is on point finding the right balance within the character, and brings the Rocky we've loved since 76 to the screen again.)

Thompson - 4(Really strong work from her in creating this chemistry with Jordan that so naturally grows from the first film. I love how both of them convey the maturation of the relationship in this film. On her end Thompson is excellent in bringing an even greater emotional weight in her moments of speaking of their future and reacting to Adonis's fights. She takes it further than even the last film showing how the connection between the two of them has only grown.)

Rashad - 3(Good work from her again in creating the right sort of combination of concern that combines a real warmth with a more intense attitude when it comes to the moments of argument with Adonis.)

Hornsby - (Not a bad rendition of George Washington Duke from Rocky V, but they don't use him very much even though he shows up throughout the film.)